David C. Bellinger,
Harvard Medical School/
Boston Children’s Hospital
CE Workshop #1: Environmental Chemicals and Children’s Brains: How Big a Problem?
David C. Bellinger, PhD
Abstract & Learning Objectives: The recent lead contamination of the water supply of Flint, MI, was a particularly egregious example of the way in which our health is threatened by exposure to environmental chemicals. Of the tens of thousands chemicals in use, extensive data on toxicity is available for only a small fraction. We are essentially conducting a natural experiment on the population, and exposure standards are established only after epidemiological studies provide unequivocal evidence of danger. Children are the population subgroup that is most vulnerable to environmental chemicals, and the brain the most sensitive organ. This workshop will survey the field of pediatric neurotoxicology, covering the prevalence of children’s exposures to different environmental chemicals, the mechanisms of neurotoxicity, the neuropsychological effects, the bases of individual differences in vulnerability, and the contrast between individual and population approaches to estimating the burden of chemical-related morbidities.
Upon conclusion of this course, learners will be able to:
Identify the chemicals of greatest concern
Understand how chemical exposures impair brain development
Understand how early-life exposures to chemicals can cause life-long morbidities in cognition and behavior
Understand how neuropsychologists can contribute to protecting children from environmental chemicals
Speaker Biography: David C. Bellinger, a pediatric psychologist and environmental epidemiologist, is a Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital and a Professor in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. His research focuses primarily on the neuropsychological and behavioral sequelae of children’s chemical exposures and has included studies on lead, methylmercury, elemental mercury, arsenic, manganese, perfluoroalkyl acids, fluoride, organophosphate pesticides, PCBs, and general anesthetics. These studies have been conducted in many countries, including India, Tanzania, the Philippines, Mexico, Bangladesh, China, Japan, and Mongolia. He has published more than 400 papers and been invited to lecture in two dozen countries. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Toxics and an Associate Editor (children’s health) of Environmental Health. He is the President of the International Society for Children’s Health and the Environment, Chairperson of the WHO Committee on Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Lead Poisoning,and a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on Food Safety. He has served on advisory committees of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency, and on committees of the National Academies focused on lead, methylmercury, seafood risks and benefits, and inorganic arsenic. He is the 2016 recipient of the Child Health Advocate Award-Science from the Children’s Environmental Health Network.